Despite its importance, accountability in Victorian local government is still relatively under-researched. With important governance developments emerging in recent years across the whole public sector, it is timely to study accountability in the public sector in this changing context. This study attempts to understand accountability from the perspective of Local Government councillors and managers. There have been many normative studies of accountability that have suggested its important constituent elements. This paper is an empirical study investigating how accountability is conceptualised by local government councillors and managers. Data for the research reported in this paper was collected from 79 Victorian municipalities. A survey instrument, using a seven point likert scale, was distributed to councillors and managers. The survey statements were centred on participants' understanding of the operation of accountability. Using factor analysis, six factors were generated that reveal the elements that contribute to the operation of accountability. Whilst respondents' views of accountability were generally in accordance with those discussed in the literature, an individual's values were also found to be important. The literature has not previously explored this facet of accountability. A further indicator of the complexity of accountability is the apparent difficulty of managing the accountability relationship, which is very much affected by an individual's values.
Proceedings of the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand conference (AFAANZ), Adelaide, Australia, 05-07 July 2009